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not be given to fuch perverfe and captious hearers to know what was delivered in parables; fince they were too much blinded with wickedness to fee those which were plain and obvious, and too proud to condescend to be inftructed more fully in thofe, which contained the fublimer myfteries of the kingdom of heaven.

With regard to the parable now before us, our divine Mafter has furnished us with an explanation of its defign and tendency, and therefore we are not at liberty to feek for any other. His explanation, however, is full and comprehensive, and will therefore leave us fufficient room to enlarge upon it in our ownthoughts and reflections, without deviating from its original scope and intention; which is, to juftify the chriftian religion, and to clear it from thofe objections, which might feem to arise against it, on account of the little effect it had on the minds of those, by whom it was publicly professed.

The feed, fays our Saviour, is the word of God. Those by the way-fide are they that hear then cometh the devil, and taketh away

away the word out of their hearts, left they fhould believe and be faved.

They on the rock are they, which when they hear, receive the word with joy; but having no root, believe only for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

You have here then a compendious view of thofe caufes, which obftructed in the time of our Saviour, and ever will continue, I fear, to obstruct, the natural energy and fruitfulnefs of God's word.

The feed fown by the way-fide, represents thofe careless and nominal Chriftians, who hear indeed, but do not confider the weighty truths of religion. Of this fort are all the thoughtless crowds of the bufy world, who are born indeed in a christian land, and have been baptized into the name of Christ, but

have no other claim to the honourable name of Chriftians, by which they are, improperly, called. They have indeed the glorious light of the Gospel shining round about them, but their hearts are impervious to its rays. They are never at leifure to entertain any ferious thoughts of God and religion. They are too deeply engaged in providing for the prefent life to have any time to confider what they shall do to inherit eternal life. They are, in fact, just as much unenlightened and unregenerate, as if they had lived in the midst of heathen darkness and idolatry. And, accordingly, our Saviour juftly reprefents them in the parable, as being equally with the hea thens, under the power and influence of the devil, who cometh and taketh away the word out of their hearts, left they should be faved.

It is a melancholy thought to confider the greatest part of a christian nation as living in this dangerous and unchriftian way but it is a thought too well established on the basis of truth, to be either doubted or denied. It is no wonder, therefore, that our preaching is vain, when their faith is fo vain and void of


all foundation.

Thousands and ten thou

fands,-I speak not of thofe miferable wretches, who are funk in brutal ignorance and corruption,-I fpeak of our nobles, our fenators, our most distinguished characters in knowledge, in eloquence, in rank and fortune, hardly ever approach the house and altar of God. And if to these we add the many thousands more, who approach them with unfeeling hearts and pre-occupied thoughts, from motives of idleness, custom, or curiofity, we fhall not much wonder, that the word of God, though quick and powerful, should produce fo little effect in the world. The arguments for the truth of the Gospel are indeed ftrong and convincing, and the motives to the practice of its duties cogent and irrefiftible: but these arguments and motives cannot force their way into ears, which refufe to hear them, or into hearts barred against their reception by wilful ignorance and oppofition. Let them, however, know, and let every one, who has reafon to fufpect himself to be in the number of these careless and inconfiderate hearers, know, that it is high time to awake to a right understanding, to a thorough confideration,

ration, and a lively fenfe of that religion, which they now, in name only, profess. Let them be affured, that the truths of it are too important to be difgregarded, and its promises and threatenings too ferious to be trifled with for we cannot neglect, or be unacquainted with, its faving truths, but at the expence of our immortal fouls. A fecond fort of unprofitable hearers are those, who do indeed fuperficially confider the truths of religion, but not enough to fix them deeply in their minds, or to prevent their falling away in time of temptation: they are, therefore, aptly compared by our Saviour to ftony ground, which receives the seed, but wants depth of earth fufficient to bring it to perfection. The guilt of the former fort of unprofitable hearers confifted in their hearing the truths of religion, without confidering them but thefe, not only confider them, but also receive them with joy they have a real value for religion, they are convinced of its certainty, they admire its excellency, and rejoice in its privileges. But their unhappinefs is, that this good frame and temper of mind is not lafting: in the elegant language of the Prophet, it is like a morning cloud, or


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